Kiwi have a special significance to all New Zealanders; they are a national icon and unofficial national emblem.
Kiwi are a taonga species to Māori, who have a strong cultural, spiritual and historic relationship with them. Kiwi are recognised as one of the children of Tāne, the god of the forest, and were highly valued as food, and reserved for rangatira. There are many Maori proverbs, songs and poetry related to the qualities and life of the kiwi. Kiwi feather cloaks were rare and treasured. The decline in kiwi populations is reflected in the decline in Mātauranga Māori relating to the kiwi. With kiwi now strictly protected, weavers must obtain their feathers with the permission and assistance of DOC, although some hapu strive to manage this taonga themselves.
A large number of iwi have kiwi present (or historically present) within their rohe, and tangata whenua are involved in kiwi recovery throughout Northland. Predator control to protect native species including kiwi is being undertaken by tangata whenua at Motatau and Waima. Tangata whenua also undertake kiwi protection in the Takou Bay area, and others have expressed interest in establishing similar projects.
As advocacy and active management are best carried out by local people in a culturally appropriate manner, tangata whenua have an important role to play in dog control and kiwi protection advocacy.
Northland brown kiwi are highly valued by the local community. Many people live in close proximity to populations of Northland brown kiwi and recognise their role and responsibilities as guardians/kaitiaki of the taxon.